Gluten intolerance may be the source of many an ailment, but is a gluten-free lifestyle necessary for you?
If you’ve been dealing with headaches, joint pain, lack of energy, bloating, or gut problems, you may have a sensitivity to gluten, which could be the culprit for all of the above. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and although some people have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, which is an inherited autoimmune disorder, others are just sensitive to gluten, and the result could be wreaking havoc with your body in many different ways.
Martha Rosenau, a registered dietician, is passionate about helping her patients understand the difference between Celiac disease and gluten intolerance and how to live with either. She is sensitive to those who literally cannot set foot inside a bakery or pizzeria without feeling sick and those who think having to eat gluten-free is the end of the world.
“If it feels like a death sentence when we have these conversations because we talk about the chocolate chip cookie they loved and can never have again or the pizza they won’t enjoy anymore,” she says, “I know the best products in every category, so we focus on the pleasure they will get from those and where to find them.”
But it’s not just about what you can and cannot have. There is accurate gluten-intolerance testing available today, which a health professional may recommend before changing your diet. Rosenau warns that gluten-free is not a popular diet, such as keto or paleo, even though some may benefit from losing weight as they eliminate certain foods. “There are consequences to eliminating gluten in your diet,” she says. “You will likely be missing important nutrients, such as B vitamins and vitamin E, iron, and zinc. A dietician can work with you on how to close the nutritional gap by focusing on safe foods that are rich in those nutrients that may be missing.”
Determining the problem can also be a bit of a puzzle even with testing, Rosenau says. “This is about improving the way you feel, and if you are not getting well by eliminating gluten, we could be dealing with multiple food sensitivities, including dairy, soy, or other common allergens.”
Karly Powell, a naturopathic doctor with Halsa Naturopathic Medicine and Strata Integrated Wellness Spa at the Garden of the Gods Club, also supports testing before making changes. Powell says accurate testing requires the patient to be eating gluten, so if elimination has already begun, the testing may give a false result. “I think it’s better for my patients to know up front what we are dealing with,” Powell says. “And testing can show the severity of the sensitivity, which is important to our approach going forward.”
As a naturopathic doctor, Powell uses homeopathic and herbal therapy, when appropriate, in her approach to treatment. She believes that many who are sensitive to gluten may simply need time for the body to heal and reset, and then gluten can be reintroduced without any consequences, and that’s where herbal treatments come in. “Herbal treatments can help heal the small intestinal tract by mechanically helping it calm down and reduce inflammation,” Powell says. “I create custom compounds to get the most effective results for my patients, and then we can reintroduce gluten on a trial basis, so they can see if they can tolerate it. Our bodies have an amazing capacity for healing. This doesn’t have to be life-long.”
Both Rosenau and Powell agree that people eating a gluten-free diet need to be incorporating whole foods into their regimen. “Gluten-free products can often be poor in nutrient density,” says Powell. “They often have added sugar or sodium to make them taste better.”
She suggests focusing on adding brown or black rice into the diet or other whole grains, such a quinoa or millet, coupled with an adequate amount of vegetables and healthy fats.
Living gluten-free in Colorado Springs
Living gluten-free has gotten easier as food manufacturers and restaurants have jumped on the bandwagon. Grocery stores typically have a gluten-free section and products contain clearly marked labels to help people avoid gluten. Dining out also has become more enjoyable as restaurants and bakeries have made it a mission to provide quality gluten-free offerings.
Here are some of the recommended restaurants and places to purchase gluten-free products to cook with at home.
Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery
In addition to the restaurant and bakery serving cakes, pies, pastries, and breads, Coquette’s also sells a proprietary, hand-blended, gluten- and soy-free flour for baking at home.
616 S. Tejon St. / 719.685.2420 / coquettesbistro.com
You’ll experience authentic El Salvadorian cuisine and a 100% gluten-free menu, including traditional pupusas: flatbread stuffed with fresh ingredients.
115 S. 25th St. / 719.473.0877 / monsestasteofelsalvador.online
Outside the Breadbox
This gluten-, nut-, and soy-free facility serves wholesome baked goods to take home, including breads, rolls and buns, cookies and crackers, bagels, and pies.
2027 W. Colorado Ave. / 719.633.3434 / outsidethebreadbox.com
Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics
This plant-based bakery and cafe sells bread flour and cake mixes with organic ingredients. The bakery offers everything from scones, cookies, and brownies to wedding cakes. The cafe serves soups, salads, and sandwiches, all in a facility that is entirely gluten-free and allergy-friendly.
4657 Centennial Blvd., Suite 100 / 719.358.9920 / sweetelizabethsorganics.com
This authentic Spanish tapas bar is completely gluten-free and sources ingredients from local farms and ranches year-round. The menu includes meat and seafood items as well as snacks to enjoy with a beverage from their extensive wine list.
2607 W. Colorado Ave. / 719.471.8272 / tapateria.com